Monday 29 June 2015

Mad Stan Speaks, The World Laughs

"There there Stan, time for your pills?"
On Thursday we had a chuckle about Mad Stan's latest piece of hilarious garbage. To cut a long story short, he managed to write a study which proved itself wrong, simply because he's a pathetic obese gnome who hates e-cigs.

Others have had fun with it too because it really is a work of simpleton art, but now anti-smoking Dr Michael Siegel - a Professor at the Boston University School of Public Health - has put the boot in too (do read the whole thing - DP).
The authors of this article set up a straw man by arguing that the reason for the promotion of electronic cigarettes is that the smoking population is hardening. Then, if they can show that the smoking population is actually softening, they can argue that e-cigarettes are not needed. However, this is a straw man argument because the reason why advocates like myself are promoting electronic cigarettes has nothing to do with whether the smoking population is hardening or softening.

Mad Stan's hypothesis was that e-cigs should not be promoted because his wealthy fellow tobacco control narcissists have a plan all laid out for making people quit smoking and they don't need any help, thank you very much. Well, not any help they aren't paid out of your taxes to provide, that is.

But as Siegel notes, it doesn't matter how much more difficult or easy it is to 'encourage' smokers to quit, there are still real smokers around, so anything - according to Siegel - that can persuade those smokers to quit is a good thing, right? Well, not according to lifelong tobacco control advocate Mad Stan, no. He's quite content with what's happening right now, so he is - if people continue to smoke because e-cigs are not on the table, he's happy as Larry.

I argued on Thursday that Mad Stan's study proved the opposite of what he claimed - quite a feat for the dickhead - and Siegel tends to agree.
Although the potential value of electronic cigarettes is not conditioned on whether the smoking population is hardening or softening, this article misinterprets its own data to incorrectly conclude that the smoking population is softening. 
This article confirms that the proportion of smokers making quit attempts in the United States has increased over time. However, trends in smoking prevalence during the same time period confirm that the decline in prevalence has declined over the past decade and a half. And since the number of quit attempts has gone way up, this means that the proportion of quit attempts that are successful has dropped. In other words, smokers are finding it more difficult, not easier, to quit. This actually suggests that the smoking population is hardening.
Indeed. As I said on Thursday, it's laugh out loud funny that the bespectacled berk has managed to construct a study which manages to ridicule both itself and the idiot charlatans who wrote it. 

It's a sloppy and laughable dog's breakfast of a study, as Siegel also concludes.
The rest of the story is that in this new article, the study sets up an irrelevant straw man argument, misconstrues the reasons why e-cigarettes are being promoted, misinterprets the data analysis, and draws an invalid conclusion about the "irrelevant" research question which it set out to answer.
I'll let you in on a secret, I took around 30 minutes to write Thursday's article - including finding links, adding images and choosing tags - because it just about wrote itself.  The study is such transparently incoherent junk science cockwaffle that Twitter was collectively laughing almost before it was published. When they next update the online Oxford English Dictionary, the definition of 'ineptitude' will simply have a link to Mad Stan's self-defeating study, with a note to also see the entry for "shooting oneself in the foot".

No-one, but no-one, could believe it to be an important piece of research because they would have to be functionally illiterate or certifiably insane to do so.

Oh well, there's always one idiot in every town I suppose.

Thursday 25 June 2015

Stanton Glantz Produces A Study Which Proves Himself Wrong

We've always known that Stanton Glantz is a horse's arse, but he's galloped an extra few furlongs this week.

In order to rubbish e-cigs and the concept of harm reduction, the bonkers aircraft engineer has just had a study published in the science-averse rag Tobacco Control Journal where he claims that - between 1992 and 2012 - the fewer smokers there have been, the quicker they have quit. Here's how he explains it on his blog.
Smokeless tobacco and, more recently, e-cigarettes have been promoted as a harm reduction strategy for smokers who are “unable or unwilling to quit.” The strategy, embraced by both industry and some public health advocates, is based on the assumption that as smoking declines overall, only those who cannot quit will remain.  A new study by researchers at UC San Francisco has found just the opposite. 
The concept of harm reduction, first proposed in the 1970s, was based on the theory that as smoking prevalence declines, the remaining “hard core” smokers will be less likely or able to quit smoking, a process called hardening. The study found that the population is actually softening.
By 'hardening', he means the well-established and entirely logical theory that as the smokers most likely to quit do quit - the low-hanging fruit for tobacco control, if you like - then the rate of decline in prevalence will decrease; that making them quit becomes harder. But Glantz says that not only is this not happening, but the opposite is true; that 'softening' is happening instead and the rate of decline in smoking prevalence is speeding up.

OK, let's imagine for a moment that he's correct - yes, I know it's difficult, but stopped clocks and all that - and that as smoking prevalence falls the rate of quitting goes up, not down. In such a scenario, we could plot the data on a graph and the curve would show a steepening decline in smokers. Something like this.

However, this certainly isn't happening because other studies by less desperately delirious tobacco controllers have said so. Here's one studying England ...
The proportion of smokers in England with both low motivation to quit and high dependence appears to have increased between 2000 and 2010, independently of risk factors, suggesting that ‘hardening’ may be occurring in this smoker population.
.. and here's one looking at data from 187 countries from 1980 to 2012.
Global modeled prevalence declined at a faster rate from 1996 to 2006 (mean annualized rate of decline, 1.7%; 95% UI, 1.5%-1.9%) compared with the subsequent period (mean annualized rate of decline, 0.9%; 95% UI, 0.5%-1.3%; P = .003). 
It is the same predictable story everywhere in the world. In fact, considering Glantz is from California, he must be well aware of real life prevalence trends in his own state. It looks like this.

As you can see, what is actually happening bears no similarity whatsoever to the curve we would produce in Glantz's fantasy scenario. The prevalence curve has flattened over time, not steepened, and this is replicated all over the globe.

The reason is that Glantz has based his study on quit attempts, and not people who have actually quit. He doesn't bother to take into account whether or not the attempts are successful, almost as if it's irrelevant. It is, however, relevant because the number of quit attempts doesn’t matter, only the number of smokers does.

I'm sure it will come as no surprise to anyone that Glantz is either lying or showing himself up as a gormless wankwassock, but it gets better.

You see, his theory is based on a sheep effect, that as prevalence drops more people want to move away from the demonised smoking habit, so therefore more people attempt to quit.  Think about that logically, though, and Glantz has only proven that more people are embarking on quit attempts. However, since there is no steepening decline in prevalence from real life data - in fact it is the opposite - this can only mean one thing; that a smaller percentage of smokers are successful with their quit attempts than in the past and making people quit is therefore getting harder. Exactly in keeping with all previous studies and the polar opposite of what the nutter set out to 'prove'.

Add in the fact that with UK and US data over the last few years showing a downturn in smoking prevalence in direct proportion to the increase in vaping, without e-cigs Glantz's insistence that tobacco control is wildly successful without harm reduction would have looked even more absurd. The only reason the prevalence curve hasn't flattened out more is because e-cigs have come along, so it’s self evident that harm reduction does work very well, especially as we know that a large proportion of the rise in quit attempts Glantz mentioned would have been by way of using e-cigs instead.

He must be the first tobacco controller ever to have produced a study which comprehensively proves itself wrong. Remarkable!

Tuesday 23 June 2015

How Dare You Challenge A Doctor!

Some readers may remember Dr George Rae, a spokesman for the BMA who told the BBC that - in his 'expert' opinion - e-cigs are more dangerous than smoking. You can hear a recording of his truth-free nonsense in this post, or read the transcript here.

This is quite obviously utter garbage, and especially disturbing because it comes from a doctor who - for some unfathomable reason - is a member of a profession people tend to trust above others. It disturbed Clive Bates enough that he wrote to the General Medical Council to complain, which he has recounted in this article which I highly recommend you read.

The purpose of the complaint, it seemed to me, was that it might mean that someone would speak to Rae and tell him to stop being so ignorant before spouting cockwaffle in future. You know, try to know the facts before pretending on the radio that he's an 'expert'. None of that happened, in fact the GMC didn't even query Rae as to what evidence he had read to come up with such weapons grade crackpottery. No investigation even took place!

Instead, the GMC repeatedly replied that Dr Rae is allowed to say whatever he wants - no matter how false, misleading and dangerous to those who want to quit smoking it may be - because, well, it's not an important matter.

Yes. Really!
In this instance, we did not open an investigation into your concerns because we do not believe they are serious enough to suggest we may need to restrict or remove Dr Rae’s registration or ability to work.
Not serious enough? So what has the past decade of incessant, wall-to-wall panic-mongering around smoking been all about if the GMC think a doctor putting people off quitting is no big deal? As Bates surmises.
One argument was that the concerns were too trivial to warrant further investigation.  Many doctors would recognise smoking as the single most important source of preventable disease (they never stop parroting it, FFS! - DP), and GPs are collectively paid over £80 million through their contracts to reduce smoking around £10,000 for the average sized practice  It seems to us to be the height of irresponsibility to give the public demonstrably false information and so exaggerate the risks of alternatives to smoking.
So next time any doctor tells you how you must quit smoking, or tells you - in the media or anywhere else - that tobacco harm is a major health problem - tell them that it's no biggie and they should just chillax ... because the GMC says so. Politicians might want to stop spunking our taxes on such inconsequential and unimportant overheads as tobacco control industry lobbyists too.

Meanwhile, the BMA have today been holding their annual conference under the hashtag #ARMlive, so a few enthusiastic vapers sent Bates's blog their way to see what they thought of such a whitewash. In amongst the tumbleweed there was this piece of absurd wagon-circling.
Yes, apparently, asking the doctors' regulator to regulate doctors and call fraudulent claims to account is deemed as 'persecution'. How very dare they challenge a cardinal of the Church of Public Health with mere facts, eh?

Do go read Bates's blog in its entirety and be amazed at the dismissive arrogance of these people.

Monday 22 June 2015

E-Cigs, ASH And London Hospital Bans

Last week some brain donors at Guy's and St Thomas' hospitals in London were enthusiastically tweeting their shiny new piece of totalitarian scumbaggery.
Those welfare-scrounging shitgoblins at ASH were very pleased to publicise this, of course.

Yes, that's the 'vaper's friend', ASH, gleefully telling the world about how vapers are to be told to get orff the land they have paid taxes to build, maintain and run, by people whose salaries they fund. Along with the smokers who have already been deemed sub-human by repulsive ASH-driven policies.

Now, I'm sure someone will point out that ASH were being paged by Guy's and St Thomas' and just retweeted when they saw "smokefree" - because they're customarily gleeful when it is smokers being kicked off the premises - and that it doesn't reflect their true thoughts on the matter.

Well, firstly, why is the government giving them our cash if they are so fucking shit at doing basic research? You may think that churlish, but considering most bans these days also tend to include e-cigs did it not cross their nasty vindictive minds that vaping might be included? Didn't they think to check, or could they just not care less?

Y'see, if they had looked into it further, they would have read the new policy at Guy's and St Thomas' which has this to say as justification for e-cigs being included.
11.1 E-cigarettes are included in the Smoke-Free Policy and their use is not permitted in Trust premises or grounds. While there is some evidence that they may support smoking cessation, they are currently not regulated as a tobacco product or as a medicine in the UK. 
Translation: E-cigs are all around us here in London, and we see people not smoking every day because of them, but we are so crassly ignorant that we will ban them until some overpaid public sector desk-monkey can grind their way through the snail-like morass of self-serving, intransigent, civil service psychobabble and actually do something useful. Spending public money is our game and we will discard sense and reason in favour of supporting anyone else who is employed in the same economy-draining scam. Screw health, who really cares anyway?

What's more ...
11.2 Staff must ensure that any patient bringing an e-cigarette into the hospital is offered approved nicotine replacement therapy as per Trust NRT withdrawal protocols. 
Brilliant! I see you're using something that works. I'm afraid you're not allowed that though, I insist you have some of this expensive state-funded Pharma tat that is completely useless instead.

It's even more astonishing when you factor in that the St Guy's and St Thomas' policy authors have purposely ignored advice which doesn't agree with their all-out ban. For example, they cite this Royal College of Physicians (RCP) statement which is ambiguous about vaping, while ignoring this more forthright RCP opinion.
Health professionals should embrace this potential by encouraging smokers, particularly those disinclined to use licensed nicotine replacement therapies, to try them, and, when possible, to do so in conjunction with existing NHS smoking cessation and harm reduction support. E-cigarettes will save lives, and we should support their use.
I think that's pretty clear. It tends to suggest that the RCP do not advocate banning e-cigs and offering anyone using one a fucking patch instead!

Still, I'm sure the 'vaper's friend' will be behind the scenes working hard to get this ban lifted. Won't they? Well actually, no. We know this because Guy's and St Thomas' also cite ASH as support for their policy, specifically this document, which states.
"ASH has worked with the Chartered Institute of Environmental Health and the Trading Standards Institute to produce guidance for organisations considering whether or not to ban the use of electronic cigarettes on their premises. This provides a structure for thinking through the issues but leaves it to organisations to develop their own approach informed by the evidence."
They could have said something like "there is no justification whatsoever for banning e-cigs unless you're an authoritarian cockmuppet" but instead ASH - as usual - merely issue a few limp, fence-sitting platitudes when talking about e-cigs, which effectively tell Guy's and St Thomas' to carry on Doctor, ban 'em if you like, we really couldn't give a toss.

For the avoidance of doubt, it's worth remembering that every vaping ban - and I do mean every one - is directly as a result of 'passive smoking' hysteria and junk science promoted by ASH for the pure purpose of increasing their own bank balances. They and their fellow tobacco control industry grifters often talk about 'evidence-based policy' but there has never been even any junk evidence that smoking outdoors is dangerous, yet ASH support outdoor bans. As for e-cigs, there is not even evidence of harm to the user themselves, but the foundations were laid for anyone to complain about just about anyone else thanks to ASH's hideous and fundamentally anti-social smoking ban. In an ideal world, ASH wouldn't be schmoozing vapers and pretending they are on the side of the angels, they would instead be on their knees whenever they meet a vaper, apologising profusely for their stupidity and kissing anything that remotely looks like an arse.

Sadly, the upshot of the St Guy's and St Thomas' health-irrelevant policy is that we are left with yet another pointless, illiberal, and ludicrous ban based on not even a scintilla of harm to anyone. The culture of 'public health' fascism writ large.

They make my skin crawl, all of them.

Friday 19 June 2015

Demented Down Under

Australia gets more deranged by the day.
GOLD Coast clubs and pubs may soon be counting patrons’ drinks to keep them sober, rather than risk fines of up to $56,000.
Drinkers are expected to be sober in pubs now?
A radical new State Government plan will see breathalyser-wielding police testing drinkers at the bar to see just how drunk they are, with the results used to build a case against venues.
That's right, pubs can be shut down if they don't correctly guess the amount of alcohol their customers have drunk.
And it appears the blood-alcohol limits for drivers might be the standard on which club drunks are assessed ... 
“Allowing police to breathalyse drunken patrons will help them to build cases for prosecution for court,” said Ms D’Ath. 
“For example, police consider a (blood-alcohol) reading of 0.15 to be highly intoxicated.”
When driving, perhaps, but that's around 4 pints or less. Otherwise known as a light lunch in the Puddlecoteville Arms!
The plan to allow police to breathalyse patrons has been slammed by bar owners who say staff will have no way of knowing a person’s blood-alcohol level before they are served.
Unless they also breathalyse customers before they serve them, of course. What fun evenings that will make, eh?
James Tweddell, owner of Broadbeach restaurant and nightclub East, said allowing police to randomly breath-test patrons was draconian and ridiculous. 
“If someone is arrested and has committed a crime and police want to breathalyse him, I support that. 
“But if someone wants to enjoy a night out, like a 40th, and the cops are going to walk in and breathalyse people at a venue, then that is ludicrous.”
You'd think so wouldn't you? But incredibly, in the comments under the article, many Australians actually think this is a great idea! Good grief.

H/T Tim Andrews who I truly pity for having to live down there.

Thursday 18 June 2015

If You're Welsh, I Have A Job For You

Further to my recent articles about the retarded proposal to ban e-cigs in public places in Wales (see here and here), the Ashtray Blog has produced a very handy guide to the voting intentions of Welsh politicians and what you can do to help get the stupidity thrown out.
[W]hen the Welsh government held a consultation on whether to copy the Spanish ban, 79% of those who replied were against a ban, even after hundreds of responses had been stripped out. 
Those against a ban include The Royal College of Physicians, Action on Smoking and Health, Cancer Research, Cardiff University, The British Heart Foundation, Tenovus and the UK Centre for Tobacco and Alcohol Studies. 
Despite all this, the Welsh government is pushing ahead with plans to ban e-cigs in public places in Wales.
Because the Welsh assembly was designed to bring democracy closer to the people, apparently. Good grief.
Some AMs who I’ve contacted in the past have refused to confirm their position on the basis that I was not resident in their area (the fact my company employs people in their area didn’t seem to count). Others just never replied. I’m going to be contacting AMs who have not confirmed their position, but if you can help out with the ‘unknowns’ let me know in the comments. I’d also love to hear what AMs have said to you.
James, the blog author, then lists all the information he currently knows of voting intentions of Welsh AMs. Where you can help out - especially if you are in their constituency so they are obliged to reply -  is by contacting the AMs who are in favour of the ban, are undecided, or who have not expressed their stance, and pointing out precisely why it's such a batshit crazy idea.

Do go read James's article, which not only lists the AMs in question along with their Twitter and other contact details, but also includes a couple of sample letters/emails you could send.

And in case you think it may be tilting at windmills to engage with these politicians, I also urge you to read Simon Thurlow's account of how Wales has got to this position, and how everyone from ASH Wales to the Assembly Petitions Committee has attempted to exclude the public all the way down the line. Unsuccessfully, so far, as the vote could teeter on a knife edge with only a small number of AMs required to switch sides for the proposal to be rejected (yes, it should be rejected almost unanimously, but we're talking about dunderheaded politicos here). Or, as Simon says ...
It is obvious from this state of affairs is that we have Mark Drakeford rattled and worried. We know he has not (and cannot) find credible evidence to back his ideological stance on eCigarettes. I believe he is also now aware that we are garnering support from the opposition parties against his puritanical plans. He also knows that we only need to persuade a small number of Labour AM’s to rebel against him and his plans will be in complete disarray. 
So where does this leave our campaign? 
Quite simply, I believe we are winning the battle. We are winning the hearts and minds of AM’s as we meet them. We have countered every single argument Drakeford has presented with sound scientific EVIDENCE. Finally, I believe that Mark Drakeford is finally coming to realise that we are a force to be reckoned with. We are not some ‘oiks’ from the Valleys with a grievance. We are, in fact, a learned body of people who know what we are talking about and can back up everything we say with solid scientific evidence.
The upshot is that there is a very real chance of this pathetic policy being voted down, despite the Welsh state, its NGOs and fake charities doing their best to marginalise the public they are supposed to be serving. So please take a few minutes of your time to get stuck in and let odious people like Drakeford and his fellow arseclowns know their proposed law is fatally flawed, and has no place in a free democracy. But more politely than that, obviously.

Wednesday 17 June 2015

McKee, Diethelm And Their Brilliant Endgame Strategy

In November last year, I was at the London Shool of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine to see a self-congratulatory panel 'debate' entitled “Can the war on tobacco be won?”. I wrote of it here, and recounted how an economically illiterate throbber saw tobacco industry share prices as a means to phase out tobacco for good.
But [Pascal] Diethelm has a cunning plan, you see. All that is needed for the "endgame" to succeed is to get those tobacco industry profits down so that people don't buy their shares any more. It's a doddle and the FCTC has been terrorising the tobacco industry since 1997 so it's only a matter of time. Allegedly.
Indeed, the Chair of that 'debate' is also of the opinion that tobacco share prices are a gauge of how successful his extremist anti-smoking colleagues have been.
In which case - especially since plain packs are now to be introduced to the UK in 2016 and tobacco controllers are having orgasms over the potential for a domino effect worldwide - news this week from the FT suggests that the tobacco control industry is an abject failure, by their own criteria (emphases mine).
BAT leads FTSE recovery from six-month low
British American Tobacco was the biggest gainer on Tuesday as the FTSE 100 recovered from a six-month low. 
BAT emerged as the favoured pick among brokers that had been working on Imperial Tobacco’s now-complete purchase of US brands. 
CLSA was also positive on BAT, upgrading its recommendation to “buy”. Underperformance in May means BAT’s valuation discount to Philip Morris has widened to 10 per cent from 5 per cent historically, in spite of similar growth expectations, CLSA told clients. 
BAT climbed 2.9 per cent to £35.11 and Imperial took on 2.2 per cent to £32.46. Credit Suisse set a target price of £36 on the latter, having advised Imperial on buying brands shed as part of the Reynolds-Lorillard merger.
For something more visual, here are BAT and Imperial's share price performances from the 1990s to today.

Yep, all going to plan for McKee and Diethelm. 

Tuesday 16 June 2015

Europeans Say Tobacco Control Is Wasting Our Taxes

With business, family and general red mist on other subjects being a diversion of late,  it's taken me a while to get round to this, but it's very revealing. The EU released a study at the end of May entitled "Attitudes of Europeans towards tobacco and electronic cigarettes". You can read it in full here.

I'm sure you'll find your own points of interest, but there were some that struck me as particularly relevant right now. On the subject of tobacco packaging, for example, Europeans rated it as the least important factor when choosing what to smoke (page 38).

Despite tobacco control liars claiming that plain packaging will be a compelling disincentive for smokers, it appears that the public in the EU generally couldn't give much of an ant's fart about it. In fact, it gets worse if you factor in that tobacco controllers pretend the policy is designed to sway kids, teens and young adults (page 40).
"In 15 Member States, a lower proportion of young smokers and ex-smokers compared to smokers and ex-smokers overall say that the packaging is important."
Not only do those in the youngest age categories for this study attach no significance to tobacco packaging, but their give-a-shitness has declined since last time around even as the tobacco control industry has been ramping up the rhetoric. The only people, it would seem, who think that plain packaging is going to be an "effective" tobacco control policy are those whose salaries depend on lobbying for it.

Fancy that!

Further down (page 71), we find that the EU's Tobacco Products Directive (TPD) is in direct conflict with the choices Europeans are making to quit smoking.

Click to enlarge if you can't read it, but what the above shows is that e-cigs have leapt into third place of the most favoured ways of quitting smoking in the EU. That's from a base of absolutely nowhere in the last study. Meanwhile, cold turkey and help from a doctor are down from before, while Pharma patches and gum also seem to be in terminal decline and look set to be overtaken by vaping soon.

Hmm, might explain why pharmaceutical companies are lobbying the EU to ban e-cigs, mightn't it?

What's more, instead of focussing on pointless plain packaging to wean youths off smoking, perhaps the massed ranks of self-serving tobacco control troughers might instead take notice of the fact that e-cigs - according to Europeans surveyed - are exactly the product they should be encouraging (page 74).
"The younger the respondent, the more often they report having tried to quit using e-cigarettes: 20% of 15-24 year-olds have tried to use e-cigarettes to quit, compared with 5% of those aged 55+. Within that age group, respondents aged 15-17 are more likely to have used e-cigarettes to quit than 18-24 year-olds (24% vs. 19%)."
Incredible, then, that the EU and its natural parasites in tobacco control are not only in an obscene rush to deny harm reduction products to teen smokers, but also plan to render all currently well-performing products illegal - for all age groups - under their TPD which takes effect from 2016. 

Now, are they really interested in seeing teens stop smoking, or not? You decide.

And on the e-cigs 'gateway theory' which is prompting incompetent governments to ban vaping globally - and is proving to be a desperate straw for entrenched salaried anti-smoking dinosaurs to clutch - the Eurobarometer study is quite clear (page 78).
"Almost one in twenty current smokers now use e-cigarettes or similar devices (4%), compared with 3% of ex-smokers and 0% of those who have never smoked."
Yes, 0%. That's what all the fuss is about, zero percent. Just to make it clear for any 'public health' types reading, that is zero as in nothing; zilch; non-existent. That's what the BMA and other scaremongers are spending their time fussing about - a fantasy.

In fact, the survey goes even further. 
"No more than 1% of never-smokers in any country currently use e-cigarettes."
That's in all 28 member states! 25 of which couldn't find any interest amongst never smokers for e-cigs, with only Portugal, Poland and Lithuania registering an insignificant figure that struggled to round up to a pitiful 1%. 

Now, considering the tobacco control industry is a tax-sponging Goliath throughout the EU - sucking up tax receipts as fast as they can say "new BMW for the Mrs please" - you'd at least expect them to be in tune with the attitudes, choices and pressure points of the people who live in the EU, wouldn't you?

Apparently not.

Monday 15 June 2015

Happy Beer Day, Britain!

Forget Magna Carta, today is the day for all British people to celebrate lovely lovely beer!
Today beer and pubs are still central to the social health of the nation and in economic terms they contribute £22 billion annually to Britain’s GDP.
You won't hear miserable milk-curdling nanny statists mentioning that particular statistic, now will you?
One job in brewing generates twenty one jobs in agriculture, retail, pubs, and the supply chain. Britain’s brewing scene is the most dynamic and exciting it has ever been with more breweries per capita than any other country.
So let's help it stay that way. It may only be Monday but if you have a vape-friendly local or one with a decent smoking garden, pop down there. If not, go to the fridge and crack one open, or, if you're unstocked, pop down the Co-op and get some in.

On such an auspicious day, I can but paraphrase Frank Cross's rousing 1988 speech ...
I get it now! Then if you HAVE BEER, then it can happen, then the miracle can happen to you! It's not just the poor and the thirsty, it's everybody's who's GOT to have this miracle! And it can happen tonight for all of you. If you believe in this beer thing, the miracle will happen and then you'll want it to happen again tomorrow. You won't be one of these bastards who says 'Beer is bad because I'm a miserable nanny statist', it's NOT! It can happen every day, you've just got to want that feeling. And if you like it and you want it, you'll get greedy for it! You'll want it every day of your life and it can happen to you. I believe in it now! I believe it's going to happen to me now! I'm ready for it! And it's great! It's a good feeling, it's really better than I've felt in a long time. I, I, I'm ready. Have a Merry Beer Day Britain, everybody.
Hold this day in your hearts and God bless us, every one. Cheers!

(And, no, I get naff all for posts like this, unlike Cookie who used to be able to swim in his freebies!)

Sunday 14 June 2015

New Orleans Casino Loses Millions To The Surprise Of Nobody

It's all so predictable, isn't it?

New Orleans brought in a blanket smoking ban on April 22nd with the promise of clean air, hearts, flowers, and no financial losses to any business. Whatsoever. Just a couple of months later and some results are coming in.
Harrah's New Orleans Casino claims a new citywide smoking ban is to blame for a 16 percent decline in its revenue this month compared to a year ago. 
"We are currently experiencing greater declines from our local business, while casinos in surrounding jurisdictions are enjoying record highs," Harrah's spokeswoman Jade Brown Russell said.
This should hardly come as a surprise; every smoking ban ever installed has caused businesses to fail, but the mendacious tobacco control industry will always come up with some bullshit statistical chicanery to pretend the ban wasn't to blame.

It's a rather grubby and pathetic way to earn a living in my opinion. Their job basically relies on denying what everyone can see with their own eyes and wasting our taxes in doing so.

With casinos though, the dramatic destruction of trade that smoking bans inflict is even more clear cut than in any other sector. We know this thanks to a naturally occurring set of cirumstances when Illinois brought in a smoking ban in 2008 while neighbouring states didn't.
Our estimate for the effect on total revenue for all nine casinos is representative of our general findings: We estimate that the smoking ban is associated with a 20 to 22 percent revenue decline, amounting to a total loss in casino revenue of more than $400 million. This estimate implies that casino revenue in Illinois would have been approximately flat in the absence of the smoking ban (+/- 1 percent), rather than experiencing the 21 percent decline shown in the chart. 
The presence of riverboat gambling in three states adjacent to Illinois provides an opportunity for comparing this finding with the experience of similar casinos that were not subject to the Illinois smoking ban. Using data for gambling revenue at casinos in Indiana, Iowa and Missouri, we find no significant change associated with the adoption of the Illinois smoking ban. The same calculation that leads to our finding of a 22 percent decline in Illinois revenue yields very small increases in Iowa (2.2) and Missouri (1.9) and literally zero percent change in Indiana. Statistically, these estimates are all consistent with no change in revenue. This observation confirms—at least at the statewide level—that the effect we identify for Illinois is unique. Casinos in each of these states suffered roughly the same downturn in economic activity, but only the Illinois casinos suffered the losses that our model associates with the implementation of the smoking ban. 
It couldn't be more stark than this.

SOURCE: State gaming boards of Illinois, Indiana, Iowa and Missouri

Of course, in New Orleans the usual pre-legislative stages were followed. The ban was proposed, businesses rightly complained that revenues would be affected, but politicians pointed to the junk science tobacco controllers had produced to pretend that everything would be rosy. It's a circle jerk of state-funded liars all intent on getting their pointless bans through and screw the consequences (see also Drakeford and his utterly absurd Welsh e-cig ban).

In New Orleans, their unconditional ban will, like in all other jurisdictions, inevitably lead to job losses - if they haven't started already - loss of gaming duty revenues to fund government programmes, and add to the general drudgery of life. All just to pander to a minority of the most intolerant and selfish in society who simply don't like the smell, and insist that activities they disapprove of are banned, even on other people's property in places they would never have to go.

This is the huge problem I have with tax-sponging tobacco controllers and their venal, cowardly political pets. You see, I'd have much more time for them if they'd admit that bans harm businesses but that health is a priority. If they held their hands up and admitted, "you know what, thousands of pubs are going to shut because of the smoking ban but it's necessary for the public's health" instead of producing purposely misleading 'reviews' after the fact, they'd get respect from me. If they said "yes, raising the price of tobacco will obviously increase demand for fags sold by criminal gangs, but it's a price we have to pay", I'd admire their honesty. And if New Orleans health obsessives told the public what they knew before they bullied the legislation through - that casinos were going to be hit for six - and said "jobs will be lost, your city will have less money for civic services, but you won't have to smell smoke, ain't that great?", then good luck to them, they will have put all the choices on the table.

But they don't because their profession is founded and built on lies. Apparently - unlike everything else in life without exception - there are no downsides whatsoever with anything tobacco control does, only positives. It's a remarkable thing isn't it? The elusive free lunch. Even as extra Border Force officers are recruited to handle the mess tobacco control have created; while police, trading standards and local councils battle to keep control of illicit sales from white van man; and while tens of thousands of pubs shut down directly as a result of anti-smoking extremism; the media agonise as to why such a centuries-old British tradition is dying on its arse; and MPs cry crocodile tears about the loss of community pubs provide, tobacco control still continue to insist that the world is a better place because ... their salaries.

So when Harrah's in New Orleans announced their post-ban results, no-one - including tobacco control - was remotely surprised. They have just become the latest victim of the self-serving, money-grubbing, lie-peddling disease that is global 'public health'.

Thursday 11 June 2015

History Beckons For Drakeford

Life looks like it might soon get sticky for the most dangerous man in Wales.

As I wrote on Tuesday, Mark Drakeford's blind ignorance about vaping has led him to propose banning e-cigs in Welsh public (or, as most people know them as, private) places. It's an absurd suggestion and is one made without any evidence to back it except spite and extreme lemon-sucking puritanism. He may as well have delivered his media interviews wearing a big black hat with a buckle on it and proposed banning Christmas into the bargain.

The problem he has is that his Public Health Bill will be voted on in its entirety - meaning that if one part of it is so objectionable that it is rejected, the whole thing will fail - and his bluff is being called on e-cigs.

That's minimum pricing for alcohol gone; a tobacco retailer register gone; tattoo parlour licensing gone; the lot. And all because he believes the proven liars, incompetent morons and comical cranks in the BMA. It's not exactly political brilliance that Plaid Cymru have noticed this and their AM Elin Jones is lining up her boot to kick him up his corpulent backside.
The National Assembly now needs to consider all of the evidence that relates to the effect of e-cigarettes on public health, most of which is newly-emerging. E-cigarettes are used widely by people who are trying to give up smoking, so we should be very careful not to halt that trend. We cannot risk these people reverting to tobacco cigarettes from e-cigarettes. 
The Health Minister must now set out clearly what evidence there is to prove that a ban on using e-cigarettes will have a beneficial impact, and I will be seeking for the Health Committee to take the widest possible range of evidence on this before coming to its conclusions. Public health legislation must be reserved for measures where there is incontrovertible evidence that public harm is being done.
Well, there's no incontrovertible evidence in favour of the passive smoking myth either but let's set that aside for now. The salient attack in Jones's approach is the part about asking that "the widest possible range of evidence" must be considered. The problem for Drakeford is that he has nothing in his corner except junk and innuendo, and his opponents possess an embarrassment of riches.

His justification rests on three planks. But to the charge that e-cigs renormalise smoking, evidence proves that smoking rates are declining regardless; to his charge that e-cigs provide a gateway into smoking, all evidence points the other way; and to the charge that there might be a risk of passive vaping, tobacco control dinosaurs have searched for 12 years and can't even fabricate a case. There is, however, a top level Cochrane Review saying that evidence to date indicates that e-cigs are a boon for public health.

If all evidence is, indeed, considered, Drakeford is toast and so is his Public Health Bill unless the poisonous wank bag climbs down and drops his indefensible e-cigs ban. Politics is like that, it punishes dickheads.

Sadly for Drakeford, this may well send a big message to the Scots that they would be incredibly stupid to listen to their provincial ill-informed idiots about vaping, and that to do so might involve picking up a spade to dig their own political grave. It would enter the political dictionary as "doing a Drakeford", as in being so consumed by dogmatic ignorance as to ridicule yourself for future generations.

You may remember that in May last year Drakeford made an impassioned plea that his insanity should be respected.
"Do we want our successors to look back at the debates we are holding today and shake their heads at our inability to see where the evidence was leading"
It is delicious irony that if all the evidence is indeed presented to the Health Committee, there is only one way that the evidence is leading, and that is towards abject failure for Drakeford and for history to record it as such.

At which point, future successors to Drakeford will look back at the debates, press releases and media interviews he has held in the last year or so and shake their heads at how such a brainless chimp managed to reach high office in Wales.

Tuesday 9 June 2015

Wales Proposes Ignorance-Based Policy-Making

Yes, it's about this twat
The massed ranks of anti-smoking extremists have previously introduced us to tactical ploys such as policy-based evidence-making and science by press release, but today Wales's cranks have declared that they intend to position their country as a world leader in a new disipline. Ignorance-based policy-making.

From the BBC:
People will be banned from using e-cigarettes in enclosed places such as restaurants, pubs and at work in Wales, under a new public health law.
I don't know how people who are quitting or reducing smoking being "exiled to the outdoors" (© Deborah Arnott, 2008) can be considered a 'public health' measure, but the term has been so bastardised in the past decade or so, it's not a complete surprise.

It has been announced by pie-devouring cocksocket Mark Drakeford (pictured above), a dribbling imbecile I've written about before. Here's what he was wibbling about in his press release.
Announcing the measures at the Two Hearts Tattoo Studio in the Welsh capital, the health and social services minister, Mark Drakeford, said the laws aimed to protect the health and wellbeing of people living in Wales. 
He said: “The Welsh government has a responsibility to create the conditions which enable people to live healthy lives and avoid preventable harm to their health. Wales has a strong tradition of using legislation to improve public health and I am confident the measures in the public health bill will continue this."
Yes, he is confident that sending a huge message that e-cigs are potentially dangerous is a great way to "create the conditions which enable people to live healthy lives". Now, I've mentioned before that it's natural that smaller populations will naturally produce less talented politicians, but Drakeford is in a class of his own for incompetence and dog whistle fuckwittery on this matter.

The BBC, as is their wont, led with the story on every platform and saturated the airwaves on their monopolistic network of regional radio stations today, and in every one they had a spokesman or woman in favour of the ban who was astoundingly ill-informed about vaping.

For example, in Lancashire we had Mark Temple - of the lie factory known as the BMA - declaring that "they sell them as e-cigarettes therefore they are cigarettes" and that "if you spill e-liquid on a child's hand it can kill them"; in Devon the presenter insisted on saying e-cigs are smoked despite vape being Oxford Dictionaries Word of the Year in 2014; and on 5 Live some idiot from PHE Wales was citing an aircraft mechanic's debunked junk science as fact. The displays of desperate ineptitude were stunning.

This, of course, attracted spittle-lipped anti-smokers to the telephone lines up and down the country to declare what a great idea it was. The underlying justification amongst these revolting, intolerant, anti-social narcissists was that their seeing someone exhaling a harmless vapour is 'irritating' and they don't care for it much so, naturally, it must be banned. On that basis - if the proposed Welsh ban were to be realised - this is a precedent which would mean absolutely anything could be banned by government diktat.

We've known for a while that politicians worldwide seem to have forgotten how important freedom is, and are more than happy to extinguish self-determination and personal liberties for a few headlines, but this is a hideous new development in state idiocy trampling on the rights of its citizens in favour of short-term fame.

You see, for a start there was a "public" consultation on this proposal - hilariously sub-titled "Listening to you: Your health matters" - which I wrote about in November.
Well, they're officially called 'public' consultations but - as I've mentioned many times previously - these would be better described as public sector consultations. Most of the public don't know they are even happening but fake charities, state-funded bodies and quangos are paid from our taxes to write responses to them.

This one is no different, which you can see for yourself by reading the whole thing here. Except for one particular question, that is.

This is a result of 64.6% of the 525 answers having been submitted by the public. Novel, huh? What's more, it doesn't include another 279 which weren't received by the deadline - if they had, the percentage would have been 86% against the stupid proposal.

It should be the end of Drakeford's nonsense, shouldn't it? I mean, if you ask the public a question in a democracy and they overwhelmingly tell you to go boil your head, that's pretty final.

But just you watch them wriggle away from such an inconvenient statistic, because there are signs in the document that they're already working on it.
I'd boast that my political antennae were working well that day but it's all too predictable these days, isn't it?

As you can see from today's media frenzy and Drakeford's obese, jowly, punch-inviting face gurning through interviews, he has completely ignored the public. What's more, he has also ignored the overwhelming evidence that shows that e-cigs offer no gateway to tobacco smoking or any possibility of harm to bystanders, and dismissed indisputable facts presented to him by genuine experts on the subject. He has acted like an unaccountable dictator and seems genuinely proud of it. Welcome to 21st century 'democracy'.

I'd also like to remind you that ASH and their fellow tobacco control hysterics - who are ironically on the side of the angels in this debate - bear personal responsibility for this state of affairs. It is they who created this tsunami of self-centred stupid and they who empowered every curtain-twitching fuckstick in the country to complain about irrelevances and demand state bans to destroy property rights and allow the world to revolve around them. It is with the tobacco control industry's tools and useful morons that Drakeford is able to write a message to the 2.6 million e-cig users in the UK - according to ASH's own research - that their experiences are irrelevant and they will be "exiled to the outdoors" on the whim of the most disgusting in society. ASH should be thoroughly ashamed of themselves, but then that's only if they are truly the vaper's friend, which a few politely-worded statements today don't prove very much.

Still, there's always time for something to change and you can read a knowledgeable summary of how the legislation may pan out here. Additionally, Wales online also reckon the ignorant Drakeford could have bitten off more than he can chew.
It was clear early on Tuesday that the there was little support among opposition parties for the move in the Public Health Bill, introduced to the Senedd on Tuesday.
However, the damage could already have been done. Today's avalanche of BBC led negativity has already deterred thousands from considering e-cigs while simultaneously encouraging the most naturally vile in society to proudly air their obscene prejudices with full encouragement from the state.

You see, this is what happens when a politician who is woefully inadequate is given power to table legislation based on snobbery, myth and narrow-mindedness, fuelled by the bigoted rantings of a tiny few busybody neo-puritans with more taxpayer cash in their possession than brain cells.

Monday 8 June 2015

Warsaw Days And Nights

If you follow me on Twitter, you will have an idea of what was happening in Warsaw this past weekend. I'd planned to blog a few short articles as a vehicle for posting pictures but, unfortunately, the app I was using (to save lugging a laptop around like last time) didn't do the job as I'd hoped.

For a sober analysis of the event, I can recommend you read my mate Sarah's rundown, but my contribution will be a pic-heavy post from the perspective of your humble jewel robbing host who met lots of new friends but, unfortunately, was a tad too bolshy for two or three others (who shall remain nameless).

As I mentioned in my previous article, there was a welcome party on the Thursday evening which made it quite clear that the attendance was going to be larger than in 2014  Last year the corresponding evening was held in a back room of a restaurant, this time the attendees took over an entire restaurant and much of the outside too.

What's more, there was quite a buzz when the assembled vapers were joined by Hon Lik, the inventor of the device which has brought such calamity to smug, lazy, smoker-hating dinosaurs in the tobacco control industry. Speaking through an interpreter - both on the bar stairs and in his opening and closing conference remarks - he seemed genuinely thrilled that his creation has been so enthusiastically taken up by people all over the world.

My tip to him if he comes to such an event again, though, is to charge at least £5 for an adoring selfie, because he couldn't walk ten paces without someone wanting to be pictured with him, poor sod. I'm sure the inventor of nicotine patches has experienced the same for years ... oh wait.

You'll notice that it was rather sunny at 8pm when the above photo was taken. In fact, we were bathed in sunshine for the full four days, with the mercury hitting 28 degrees on the Sunday. There was barely a cloud to be seen.

It was in this generous Polish climate that the conference was officially kicked off with a rousing presentation from Derek Yach - former head of tobacco control at the WHO - in the Marriott hotel venue which demands prominence in the Warsaw skyline.

It was particularly pleasing that Yach picked out the incompetence of the BMA's George Rae as an example of false pronouncements from entrenched public health representatives who really haven't a clue what they are talking about.

Other highlights included Clive Bates presenting on "competing visions for the endgame" in which he ran through the weird and wacky notions that tobacco control has proposed to bully smokers into submission, and described why each of them was flawed and simply will not work.

His contention - with which I'd obviously agree - is that without harm reduction and carrying smokers along with a variety of alternatives, all that will happen is that criminals will take over the nicotine market. This is simply because people like nicotine, it's a very decent drug. Trying to make people quit smoking while also objecting to other forms of nicotine is solely the preserve of swivel-eyed prohibitionist cranks who should be stuck on an island somewhere, well away from civilisation, to live out their sad last days whining about the grants they used to get for being, well, swivel-eyed cranks. Not his words, obviously, just my tabloid take on it.

As good as that was - and someone within earshot of me laughed as they asked who could possibly follow it - next up was Dr Attila Danko who most certainly did. A GP from Australia talking about his country's absurd laws on e-cigs, he spent 15 minutes producing passionate theatre you wouldn't expect to see at such an event. Passionate being the operative word.

And, if you have 15 minutes to spare, you might like to watch what he was getting so passionate about.

Note, especially, the undisguised contempt he showed for the likes of McKee, Daube, Chapman and Glantz in their brave ganging up against a part time waitress from Cornwall. Perhaps that was why he received a spontaneous standing ovation from many of the 250 delegates representing (from what I saw/met) Europe, North America, Asia and Australiasia.

Because that was the beauty of this event, it was a delightful soup of vapers, industry, public health advocates and enlightened tobacco controllers from all over the world. Which made for some pretty good nights out, I can tell you.

In establishments like the steak house above where I ate with general election candidate Liam Bryan, Leicester smoking cessation adviser Louise Ross, and some Scandinavians, to the Marriott skybar (view below) where I enjoyed conversations with Australian political researchers, vitriolic vaping veterans from Germany, and Twitter housewives who travelled around the globe to be there, as well as feisty disagreements with North American public health stalwarts and anti-smoking advisers to the tobacco industry (yes, really), amongst others, debate was being held that was constructive and long overdue.

The myopic in the tobacco control industry may like to exclude anyone who disagrees with their decades long creation of a rent-seeking closed shop, but the Global Forum on Nicotine proves that real progress can be made when you bung everyone into the same city - where everything costs buttons - and bat some ideas around. If there is one set of people who should be listened to above all others by those who think tobacco is a bad idea, it is the consumers, and this event does exactly that in spades.

So after a few boozy nights too many- but lots more learned - it was all too soon back to Blighty in my first ever flight in an Embraer 175 (dead sexy plane) providing a great view of the Marriott's imposing stamp on Warsaw (as with all these pics, click to enlarge).

In a seat over the wing, of course, as any self-respecting transport geek would ensure they paid extra for. I'll spare you the snaps of other trains, trams, buses and planes in the Polish capital - of which I took many - ain't I nice?

Thursday 4 June 2015

In Warsaw

Something a bit different for the next couple of days, as I've come to Poland for the second Global Forum on Nicotine, a two day conference on harm reduction with a packed schedule of speakers. You can see this year's agenda here and the archive from 2014 by clicking here.

Wifi is standard just about everywhere over here - as you'd expect for the centre of an EU member state's capital city - so I'll be posting anything of note (and probably irrelevances too) on these pages over the weekend.

First up tonight, though, is the welcome party at a Turkish restaurant from 6:30pm your time. If you care and are lucky - and if this ex-MEP doesn't nobble me with vile cocktails again - I might be in a position to post some pics from the event later. Watch this space.


Pics will have to be added later when I get a better platform, for now I'll put them in the comments.

Quite a crowd at the welcome venue. Vaping is permitted inside but it's busy in there.

One half of the buffet.

Tuesday 2 June 2015

Twitter Curiosities

Despite following the weather and club updates online, when I turned up to watch some cricket at lunchtime on Sunday, it had started raining again. As irritating as that was, I whipped out the trusty smartphone to pass some time catching up on what was happening on Twitter.

Someone had (wrongly) mentioned that tobacco duties don't cover cost to society of smoking - citing a steaming pile of horshit from Policy Exchange in 2010 - so, naturally, I attempted to send them this article by Snowdon, and this one by your humble host which show why it was blatantly biased (and perhaps even pharma-sponsored) balderdash. However, Twitter refused to accept the tweet and it took nigh on 20 minutes to get them on there by being a sneaky bastard.

The reason became clear when I clicked on Snowdon's link myself to see if it was correct and was met with this warning.

As we all know, it is safe to ignore the warning and click through for the article, but it was disturbing that someone might have flagged a well-researched, well-written and factual blog as "potentially harmful". That isn't the end of the story though, because later the same day I found that this blog, too, was subject to the same Twitter warnings and still is now.

The first thought was that it was a general glitch with the blogspot domain, but it doesn't seem to have affected any other Blogger accounts apart from one guy who rips into the notoriously censorious SNP. It is also isolated only to and not the hundreds of country-specific suffixes that Blogger employs. Therefore if you were tweeting the links from Ireland, Germany, Spain etc, there was no discernible problem, meaning that only the British versions of the blogs were deemed "unsafe".

Now, why would it be that two British bloggers who talk about the cant, hypocrisy and lies of public health - and tobacco control in particular - were flagged as unsafe on Twitter, on the same day, and only for the British domain suffix? Probably just a coincidence, eh?

If - and it is a big 'if' - there is something nefarious behind this, it's amusing that it was counterproductive. I've personally noticed no downtick in visits and, in fact, my Twitter mentions have rocketed as followers were drawn to the gossip and the articles behind it. Monday's article, especially, has flown past the visiting stats I'd have expected to see and is on course to be the most viewed of the year so far. If there was some attempt to damage mine and Chris's blog - hard to believe considering there are no anti-smokers anywhere who are obscene and in need of psychiatric help -  it was less successful than someone putting their fist into a bucket of water to see what kind of hole they could make.

Apropos of nothing, I thought more recent readers of this blog might be interested in a similar Twitter palaver from February last year. A Twitter account called @_TobaccoTactics had been parodying the laughably inept Tobacco Tactics website - which you pay for, by the way - and had therefore raised the hackles of tobacco controllers who find it impossible to tolerate dissent or debate.

A guy called Nicholas Chinardet, who was working for ASH at the time, took it upon himself to object to Twitter on some spurious premise and have the @_TobaccoTactics account closed down. They were irked by images such as this, y'see (click to enlarge).

Most people thought them very funny, but state-funded ASH - in their miserable wisdom - had decided that playtime was over. As Carl Phillips remarked at the time, this was just par for the course.
The tobacco control industry is so desperately worried about anyone criticizing what they are saying that they will take (illegal) legal action to try to stop it.  They realize they are incapable of defending their claims on the merits.  They do not engage in any public debate with their critics (they will talk to a few pet “critics” in stage-managed settings, but pretend that their real critics do not even exist). Censorship is the tactic of someone who has only power, not truth, on their side.
Of course, this is not to say that an organisation which advocates silencing of differing opinions; whose industry has spent the last few months smearing any MP who voted against plain packs; which has rubbished the dead in protection of its favoured sponsors; and whose Director tried to force MPs to ignore the public's objections to plain packaging in a public consultation had anything to do with my and Snowdon's opinions being censored on Twitter over the weekend. I just post that as a curiosity.

Because they wouldn't dream of doing such a thing. Except when they did last year, of course.